The Constitution Is Not A “Secular” Bible

Philadelphia - Old City: Independence Hall - T...

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Seems like a contradiction given the mythology of the Right that the United States was founded on Christian doctrine, but the Constitution is one of the most religion neutral documents in our history. The Founders’ religious beliefs ranged from very to not at all, but the majority were in agreement on the necessity of separating church (of any ilk) and state. Their handiwork was meant as a framework for a democracy and the idea that it would be used as some sort of stand in biblical text would have appalled them.

Newsweek published a rather good article on the complexity of the Tea Party and their relationship and mostly misunderstanding of the Constitution. Tea Partiers, it seems, are no different from other political folk in their ignorance and willingness to use this in promotion of their pet causes.

These causes are primarily money and power-driven. Tea Party leaders know how to use Americans’ greed in the form of “no taxes” against them as well as Republicans and Democrats. Americans are some of the least taxed people on the face of the earth. They are also – aside from health care for those under 65 or who aren’t disabled – some of the most privileged in terms of government sponsored/maintained amenities. Americans truly get something for next to nothing in ways that astound the rest of the world.

For the record, the Constitution was in fact intended to strengthen the federal government because an earlier stab of pulling together as a country – the Articles of Confederation – allowed the states too much wiggle room. The Articles was a weak document and the Founders purposely gave the Constitution muscle as a result.

The Constitution, for those who weren’t aware, is strident in its secularism. Not once does it mention God or Jesus. Not to invoke them or praise them or ask their blessing. It is a legal document that spells out the rights of the people and the duties of the state.

Literal adherence to the Constitution that Tea Partiers naively pound the drum for would upend most of the last hundred years or so of civil rights, worker’s rights, women’s rights and would give businesses the same kinds of overlord privileged status they had in the Gilded Age. I doubt many Tea Party enthusiasts even realize what they are in for if their wish was granted.

Though many look back at the Founders as sages guided by the Lord’s hand, Thomas Jefferson best summed up the reality in a letter to a friend in 1816,

he mocked “men [who] look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched”; “who ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.” “Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs,” he concluded. “Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before.”

Good Ole slave-owning Tom was not blind to his, or his peers, shortcomings or human failings.

What I find most interesting in the Constitution worship is that those who champion its place as another book in the Christian Bible aren’t the least bit alarmed by the fact that it’s used to control and limit more than it is to uphold our freedoms.

When you go to the polls in a few weeks, think seriously about your freedom and who is most likely to vote in favor of maintaining that and who is most probably going to throw you, your family and your rights under the bus in the name of their idea of what your freedoms should be.

Just Saying.

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